JERUSALEM — Members of 20 international organizations that promote a boycott campaign of Israel, many of them affiliated with the BDS movement, will be banned from entering the country, according to a list published Sunday by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
The list was created after Israel’s parliament in March approved legislation that would deny entry visas to foreign nationals who publicly back or call for any kind of boycott — economic, cultural or academic — of Israel or its West Bank settlements.
BDS, which stands for ''boycott, divestment and sanctions,” aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law vis-à-vis its policies toward the Palestinians. The movement discourages the purchase of Israeli goods, pressures international companies not to conduct business in Israel and urges celebrities not to visit or perform in the country.
The Israeli government says that the boycott campaign actively promotes the country's demise and denies Israel's basic right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. In recent years, Israel has ramped up efforts to fight against what it sees as an increasing threat.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, appointed to spearhead the battle against BDS and other such movements, said Sunday that the blacklisting was “another step in our work to thwart anti-Israel boycott organizations.”
“The state of Israel will actively prevent such groups from spreading their falsehoods and odious methods from within the country,” he said.
Among those featured on the list are six U.S. organizations, including two run by Jewish activists — Jewish Voice for Peace and Code Pink.
The ban will include individuals who hold senior positions in the listed organizations and those who are particularly active in promoting the boycott, including establishment figures from various countries.
Although details of the ban have yet to be fully worked out, the ministry said that there was no intention of barring entry to individuals who express political criticism of Israel and that it would not apply to those who hold Israeli citizenship.
Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, said the new measure was "a war on freedom of speech" and that "Israel's far-right government is reaching a new low.”
“By waging an all-out intelligence, propaganda and legal war on the peaceful BDS movement for Palestinian rights and by now banning international human rights organizations and advocates from entry, Israel's desperate and brutal attempts to weaken support for BDS are already backfiring," he said.
“We answered the call for divestment from apartheid South Africa and we have done the same with the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions from Palestinians who have faced decades of human rights violations,” Kerri Kennedy from the American Friends Service Committee said in response to the ban.
On Twitter, Jewish Voice for Peace: “Israel’s decision to specifically ban JVP is disconcerting but not surprising, given the further erosion of democratic norms and rising anxiety about the power of BDS as a tool to demand freedom.”
Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said in a statement that the ban was a “badge of honor.”
“When Israel, which aims to portray itself to the world as liberal and democratic, blacklists activists dedicated to nonviolent organizing and dissent, it only further exposes itself as a fraud,” he wrote on the group’s website.
Here is a full list of the organizations set to be banned entry into Israel:
- AFPS (France-Palestine Solidarity Association)
- BDS France
- BDS Italy
- ECCP (The European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine)
- FOA (Friends of al-Aqsa)
- IPSC (Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
- Norge Palestinakomitee (The Palestine Committee of Norway)
- Palestinagrupperna i Sverige (PGS-Palestine Solidarity Association of Sweden)
- PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)
- War on Want
- BDS Kampagne
- AFSC (American Friends Service Committee)
- AMP (American Muslims for Palestine)
- Code Pink
- JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace)
- NSJP (National Students for Justice in Palestine)
- USCPR (U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights)
- BDS Chile
- BDS South Africa
- BDS National Committee